In a message for the Feast of St Joseph the Worker, Bishop Vincent Long OFM Conv has highlighted the challenges many people face in working more than one job to make ends meet – and the flow-on effects of that decision.
The Bishops Conference publishes a message each year for the May 1 feast, with this year’s message focusing on low-paid workers who can’t cover the cost of living through a single job.
Bishop Long, chair of the Bishops Commission for Social Justice, Mission and Service, acknowledged in the message that working more than one job is a positive choice for some people.
“But for others it is a matter of economic necessity,” he said.
“They are cobbling together multiple part-time or casual jobs to try to make ends meet.
“This work is usually poorly paid and insecure. There is little career progression. Casual and seasonal workers are not entitled to paid leave even when they are sick or must care for others. It is a stressful and uncertain way to live.
“Much of this work is undertaken by women. This type of work is hard on family life. It makes it difficult for young people to get a start in life.”
Bishop Long noted that the need to work more than one job is common for workers who have played critical roles during the COVID-19 pandemic: cleaners, health and aged care workers, childcare staff and social assistance workers.
“These and other workers in the care economy have been such heroes during this pandemic,” he explained.
“Yet they are often underpaid or placed in intolerable working conditions. It is scandalous that people who do such essential work are left in situations of scarcity and insecurity. Surely the pandemic has taught us to value this work and those who do it more highly?”
With May 1 this year falling in the middle of the federal election campaign, Bishop Long urged whoever forms the next government to have a policy focus on “decent work – work that is safe, secure, and fairly paid”.
“Stable, secure jobs are needed to power a recovery that actually works for working people and their families,” Bishop Long said.
Access the message, including a video, and other resources on the Office for Justice, Ecology and Peace website.